Mr. Speaker, economic action plan 2012 is Canada's plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity. The plan is focused on the priorities of hard-working Canadians and on our families. Our economic action plan is focused on prosperity for all Canadians. We are taking clear and decisive action to further strengthen our economy, and create quality jobs and a better quality of life for generations to come for our children and our grandchildren.
I will use my time today to highlight certain economic imperatives and to frame the choices we face globally, as governments and citizens alike work to secure long-term prosperity in a difficult global environment that is not about to change soon.
The OECD and the International Monetary Fund predict that our economy will again be among the leaders of the industrialized world over the next two years. For the fourth year in a row, the World Economic Forum said our banks are the soundest in the world. Among G7 countries, Canada has the lowest overall tax rate on new business investment. We have the highest credit rating. Canada is one of only two G7 countries to regain all of the jobs lost in the recession. This was achieved because our government made historic investments in infrastructure, and we encouraged businesses to invest and helped them to avoid layoffs.
In order to come out of a recession, during the recession we must take measures that are timely, targeted and temporary in nature. Governments should never create new permanent programs or institutionalize new government bureaucracies because of a recession. In today's era, resisting protectionism is crucial.
The best road to take to create long-term prosperity and new markets for Canadian products and services is to pursue free and open trade. For example, a trade agreement with the European Union is a key part of the most ambitious trade expansion program in Canadian history. With one in five Canadian jobs generated by trade, a Canada-EU trade agreement has the potential to benefit our nation enormously. It would mean a 20% boost in bilateral trade, a $12 billion annual increase to Canada's economy, which is the equivalent of almost 80,000 new jobs or about an additional $1,000 for the average Canadian family. Such an agreement would benefit Canadian workers, particularly those working in technology in Mississauga and Brampton, and chemicals and plastics, wood and wood products, and resource and renewable energies.
The second and even more important ingredient is the type of foundation we stand on. What we do to prepare before the storm is a good indicator of whether we will be the first to emerge once the hurricane has passed. The wealth we enjoy today here in Canada has been based on the good growth-oriented policies, the right and often challenging choices, and the hard work done in the past by our Conservative government. We have engaged in the transformations necessary to sustain job creation, economic growth and prosperity now and for the next generation. This means two things: making better economic choices now, and preparing ourselves now for the demographic pressures that our economy will face.
We need to keep tax rates down. Keeping taxes low and ensuring the sustainability of our social programs and fiscal position over the next generation is key.
Let us review the record of our Conservative federal government. We reduced personal income taxes and cut the GST from 7% to 6% to 5%. We allowed seniors to split their pension. We established the working income tax benefit for low-income working people. We removed more than a million low-income Canadians from the federal income tax rolls altogether. We established the registered disability savings plan and the tax-free savings accounts, the most important personal savings vehicle since the RRSP. We introduced the children's fitness tax credit and the children's arts tax credit. Altogether, an average family of four saves more than $3,100 in taxes. That is money that stays in their pockets to spend on their priorities.
At the same time, our government reduced taxes on businesses that create jobs for all Canadians. That is a significant advantage for Canada and the global economy. It is helping to create jobs and preserve jobs in communities across our country, now and for the long term. Our Conservative government rolled out one of the largest and most effective economic stimulus plans among the nations of the G20. In Mississauga and Brampton, those investments put our neighbours to work. However, they also helped us to build lasting infrastructure like the new Sheridan College, new swimming pools, a new ambulance station and basic road construction. It was done without taking on the massive debts and long-term deficits now faced by many other countries. It was done without raising taxes.
As a result, in those difficult years Canada has outperformed most other industrialized countries. Since July 2009 our Conservative government has created nearly 700,000 net new jobs. Our net debt-to-GDP ratio remains the lowest in the G7 by far. Whether it is family finances, running a small or large business or running the finances of the entire nation, what we do before and during the economic slump is a good indicator of how bright the future will be. That is why economic action plan 2012 builds on our successful approach. It is a clear plan to make effective and targeted investments to support world-leading research, innovation and entrepreneurship. It supports an ambitious trade expansion plan and puts into place a globally competitive business tax regime. It is also why we are focused on implementing economic action plan 2012 now.
For example, our Conservative government in the past has reduced the general tax rate from 22% in 2007 to 15% in 2012 and cut the small business rates to 11%, while raising the small business threshold to $500,000. That is more than $60 billion in tax relief for job-creating businesses. What does this all mean? KPMG says that business tax costs in the U.S. are 55% higher than in Canada. Forbes magazine says that Canada is the best country in the world to invest and grow a business. Canada has gone from being the least tax competitive G7 country to being the most competitive now. That is from 2005 to now.
So what does this mean on the ground? As I mentioned, it is almost 700,000 new jobs since July 2009. For those who are the proud beneficiaries of one of those 700,000 jobs, it means food on the table, the ability to pay their mortgage and to provide a bit more for their family.
Canada has regained all the output lost during the recession. Business investment in Canada is projected to reach record highs, well beyond pre-recession investments. In addition, we have removed over one million low-income families altogether from the tax rolls. We are cutting taxes in every possible way we can. We have targeted personal income taxes and cut them to the lowest tax rates. We have extended the hiring credit for small businesses. We have increased the amount Canadians can earn tax free. We have provided seniors with the much-needed ability to split their pension income. Most notably, though, we reduced the GST from 7% to 5%. That is something that helps all Canadians every day, every time they make a purchase. It puts approximately $1,000 back into the pockets of the average Canadian family. With this plan, total savings for the average Canadian family are approximately $3,100. Our government has cut taxes over 140 times since Conservatives took office, to the lowest point in almost 50 years.
This next subject is close to my heart as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Veterans Affairs. Budget 2012 is a clear victory for our veterans. I have had the great opportunity to travel across the country to hear the priorities of our veterans. We made a commitment to maintain all benefits to veterans and budget 2012 delivers on that promise.
Our government is also increasing health care transfers to the Province of Ontario by 6%. That is at a time when Ontario says it will only increase its health care spending by 2%. We are delivering more for Ontario. That is this Conservative government delivering for the people of Ontario.
I am very proud to stand in support of economic action plan 2012.